Tag Archives: John McCain

Military must face a ‘systemic’ problem

Congress is weighing in on an important issue that appears to have been a primary cause of the Sutherland Springs, Texas, massacre.

The monster who opened fire this past Sunday at First Baptist Church was able to purchase the weapon he used because of a failure by the U.S. Air Force to log his criminal background.

There’s this statement from House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, a Clarendon Republican: “News that the Air Force failed to notify the FBI of (the shooter’s) military criminal record is appalling. … Furthermore, I am concerned that the failure to properly report domestic violence convictions may be a systemic issue.”

And The Hill reports this: “The Senate Armed Services Committee will conduct rigorous oversight of the Department’s investigation into the circumstances that led to this failure,” committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., said in a statement. “It’s critical that each of the military services take the steps necessary to ensure that similar mistakes have not occurred and will not occur in the future.”

Read The Hill story here

The shooter was given a bad conduct discharge from the Air Force. His exit was due to his assault against his then-wife and her infant child. The Air Force failed to notify federal authorities of the charge, enabling this bastard to purchase the assault weapon he used to murder 26 parishioners at First Baptist Church.

It appears to be a long-standing failure by the military. The issue is drawing considerable attention by lawmakers.

It’s too early to tell whether they are doing enough, or certainly whether they will do enough to crack down on the carnage that is erupting across the land.

I hope Congress and the president will do more. At least, though, we have begun a discussion about one element of gun violence.

POTUS does the impossible

Donald John Trump has done the seemingly impossible.

He has turned yours truly into a fan of Republicans who — prior to Trump’s ascendance into the presidency — likely wouldn’t get a good word from this blog.

Who … knew?

I’m going to single out three GOP senators briefly.

* John McCain. This man is a hero. He fought bravely during the Vietnam War. He served heroically as a prisoner of war after being shot down. McCain’s valor is beyond dispute. His commitment and love of country cannot possibly be questioned. He’s now fighting for his life against brain cancer.

* Bob Corker. I am less familiar with this fellow. He’s ending his Senate career after just two terms. He’s a conservative. He is a mainstream fellow. He seems intelligent, measured, reasonable.

* Jeff Flake. He, too, is ending his Senate run at the end of next year. He’s another conservative. He’s also a true-blue Republican.

All three of these men have another thing in common. They detest the president of the United States. So do I. Wow! Imagine that. I agree with them — and other lawmakers in both houses of Congress — in their assessment of Trump’s competence.

Donald Trump is not competent enough to do the job to which he was elected. What’s more, he’s not even a real Republican. He is no Democrat, either. He’s a man without a party, or a man with a party he is seeking to craft in his own image.

What an image that would be, yes?

A fellow inherits a stake from his wealthy father; he invests it in real estate development; he makes a ton of money. Then he ventures into beauty pageant management/ownership. Then he becomes host of a reality TV show.

Oh, then he marries three women, produces five children with all three of them. He cheats on his first two wives — and brags about it! He admits to groping women and grabbing them by their, um … oh, you know. He mimics a disabled reporter. He disparages a Gold Star family. He hides his tax returns from public review.

Trump doesn’t know how to govern. His “fellow Republicans” do understand how run the government. They are frustrated, angry and mortified at the so-called “leadership” coming from the White House.

I am on their side in this growing dispute.

The common denominator who has brought me to the Republicans’ side? He sits in the Oval Office.

McCain afraid? Of Trump?

Take a bow, Sunny Hostin. You’ve just asked the most preposterous post-2016 presidential election question yet.

Hostin is a co-host of “The View,” the show that features a panel of women who sit around and gab about the “hot topics” of the day. Their guest today was U.S. Sen. John McCain, whose daughter, Meghan, has just joined the lineup of “The View.”

She asked the senator if he is “afraid of” Donald Trump, who has drawn a lot of fire from McCain over this and that issue since he became president The question drew howls of laughter from the audience — and from the senator!

“I mentioned that I had faced greater challenges,” McCain eventually replied once he stopped laughing.

Challenges?

Let’s see, how has the senator fared over the course of his life?

McCain graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. Then he flew fighter jets during the Vietnam War. He got shot down over Hanoi in 1967. McCain was held captive for more than five years. He was tortured, beaten to within an inch of his life; he was held in isolation for months at a time.

McCain would be released in 1973. He ran for Congress, landing eventually in the Senate. He ran for president twice, losing the Republican primary in 2000 to George W. Bush and the 2008 general election to Barack H. Obama.

Oh, and then there’s this: He’s now fighting brain cancer with what I am believing is an iffy prognosis. Sen. McCain is in the middle of the fight of his life. Yet he is proceeding courage and is exhibiting the same fighting spirit he revealed when he was held by vicious enemy captors.

Is he afraid of Donald J. Trump — a man who knows not a damn thing about the kind of sacrifice that servicemen and women such as McCain have given to their country?

I cannot say this enough about Sen. McCain. I more often disagree with his policy positions than I agree with them. However, he embodies the very definition of courage.

I didn’t hear Hostin pose the question in real time, but I’ll presume she offered it in good faith.

The senator’s reaction speaks volumes about his opinion of the president of the United States.

Gold Star controversy boils up again

Donald J. Trump has a consistent problem with Gold Star families, indeed he seems to have similar problems with men and women who’ve served in combat.

Do you recall in the summer of 2016 how he told the parents of a young American killed in Iraq that they “had no right” to criticize Trump over his views of the ongoing conflict in the Middle East? The parents happen to be Muslim, as was their son, an officer in the U.S. Army.

He once said that Sen. John McCain was a “war hero” only because he was captured by the North Vietnamese after his jet fighter was shot down. “I like people who aren’t captured, OK?” he said.

Trump contended falsely that previous presidents didn’t call the families of warriors slain in battle.

Now he’s reportedly told the wife of Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in Niger, that Sgt. Johnson “knew what he was getting into, but it still hurts.” The president has bristled at a congresswoman who said she heard Trump say it.

Do you see a pattern here?

I just cannot fathom what prevents the president from saying simply this: Please know that our nation grieves with you. We feel deeply for the pain you are suffering and we appreciate beyond measure the sacrifice your son/daughter has made in defense of the nation.

He cannot do that. He apparently is not wired with the empathy or compassion gene. Trump turns everything back to himself. He makes himself the story, either by design or by clumsy incompetence.

We are witnessing yet another manifestation of this man’s unfitness for the job to which he was elected.

Presidents are expected to deliver words of comfort. They are expected to serve as nation’s consoler in chief. Americans expect this — among other things —  from their head of state.

Donald Trump keeps failing to deliver.

Astounding.

Sen. McCain ‘tells it like it is’

U.S. Sen. John McCain received a great and much-deserved award today and said this:

“To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century,” the Arizona Republican said, “to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.”

Sen. McCain received the Liberty Medal by the National Constitution Center. The person who gave him the medal was former Vice President Joe Biden, a former Senate colleague and longtime McCain friend.

The Liberty Medal was given to McCain to honor him for his career in public service, which included heroic service as a Navy aviator and more than five years in captivity as a Vietnam War prisoner.

McCain speaks with profound knowledge and understanding of this nation’s role as the world’s remaining military superpower and the world’s leading economic power.

McCain stands tall

I saw the remarks and understood immediately to whom he was directing his remarks about “scapegoats” and “spurious nationalism.”

Listen up, Donald John Trump Sr. The senator, the man you disparaged disgracefully during your presidential campaign, is talking about you.

Biden paid tribute to McCain’s service during his remarks. According to CNN: “John, you have broken many times, physically and otherwise, and you have always grown stronger, but what you don’t really understand in my humble opinion is how much courage you give the rest of us looking at you,” Biden said. 

If only one prominent American, the president of the United States, could grasp the message this brave man is delivering.

Trump disrespects McCain … one more time

This doesn’t surprise me. Nothing that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth should surprise anyone, for that matter.

I’m still baffled that the president of the United States can utter the kind of cheap criticism at an American hero who’s in the midst of a life-and-death battle with brain cancer.

U.S. Sen. John McCain announced this week he would oppose a Senate Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. Trump favored the GOP plan. It’s the second time in just three months that Sen. McCain has scuttled a GOP effort to repeal and replace the ACA.

So … what does the president declare via Twitter? He calls the Republican McCain a flip-flopper, suggesting that he went back on his pledge to repeal and replace “Obamacare.”

Did the president make any public mention of McCain’s battle with brain cancer? Did he salute McCain for the service he has given the country — as a U.S. Navy aviator who was held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, suffering unspeakable pain and torture at the hands of his captors and then as a member of Congress for three decades?

Ohhh, no! The president chose to stay on the low road. He chose to lampoon Sen. McCain’s vote just a day after the senator revealed to the nation that he has received a “very poor prognosis” from his doctors.

This kind of cheap, petulant politicking is what I suppose we should expect from the president of the United States. That doesn’t mean we should accept it. I damn sure don’t.

Shameful.

Buh-bye, latest GOP effort to kill the ACA

Well, here’s where we stand with the persistent Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

It’s a goner. Kaput. Finished. Party’s over, man.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, today announced she won’t vote for the latest Senate GOP-engineered effort to repeal the ACA and replace it with an abomination that we’ll call Trumpcare.

You know what interests me about this latest death knell being run over the GOP’s ACA repeal effort: The three senators who’ve announced their opposition to it have done so for wildly varying reasons.

Collins opposes the bill because it cuts too much money from state Medicaid assistance programs for Americans who cannot afford health insurance. Sen. John McCain of Arizona hates the partisan process that brought this bill forward; he wants Democrats to be involved in this effort. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky doesn’t like the block grant provision, which he says simply renders the replacement as an “Obamacare light” version of the ACA.

There might be more Republicans who’ll abandon this effort. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has strong reservations. So does Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who contends that his buddy Sen. Mike Lee of Utah also might vote “no.”

That all might be a moot point. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said today he doubts the bill will get to a vote. Senate Republican leaders have conceded likely defeat.

The Senate GOP has until Saturday to repeal the ACA with a mere 50-vote (plus one) majority; after that the rule shifts back to the Senate’s 60-vote supermajority rule.

What now?

Hey, here’s an idea: How about sitting down with congressional Democrats to work out ways to repair the ACA? Are congressional Republicans so hell bent on removing President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement from the books that they simply won’t look for common ground with their Democratic “friends”?

Premiums are too high. Health insurance isn’t as “affordable” as it was advertised. Surely there are ways to tinker, tweak and fine-tune the legislation to make it better. Aren’t there?

We aren’t re-inventing the wheel here, folks. Members of Congress did that very thing more than 50 years when they approved Medicare legislation. It wasn’t perfect, either, but they sought — and found — common ground to improve it to older Americans’ satisfaction.

That, I submit, is a sure-fire formula for furthering the cause of good-government legislation.

Hey, Mr. POTUS, McCain just doesn’t get scared

I have this hunch that John McCain isn’t one bit intimidated by the commander in chief, the head of state of the greatest nation on Earth.

The Arizona Republican senator has just announced his opposition to the latest Senate GOP effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He has enraged Donald Trump. The president has responded with his usual rant about McCain being disloyal to the Republican Party and to the president.

I’m going to give Sen. McCain all the respect in the world.

He said he cannot “in good conscience” support the ACA repeal effort. His stated opposition is steeped mostly in the bum’s rush process that has pushed this legislation forward. The GOP did it once again with no help from Democrats. McCain has called for a return to “regular order.” Senate Republicans ignored one of their own.

But you see, McCain is the midst of quite an important battle that has not a damn thing to do with politics. He is fighting for his life. McCain has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. He is undergoing some therapy to battle the disease. But he’s back at work. He is standing up for himself, for his constituents in Arizona and against the president.

You know, of course, about McCain’s other big struggle that has nothing to do with politics. He was a Navy pilot in 1967 when he got shot down over Hanoi, North Vietnam. He was taken prisoner. He was beaten incessantly and suffered many other forms of physical and emotional torture for more than five years.

Does anyone in this country really believe that this war hero is going to be intimidated by a politician? Moreover, does anyone further believe that this man — who’s currently engaged in the fight of his life — is going to be cowed by threats over a decision he has made regarding a mere public policy initiative?

I have not always been a fan of Sen. McCain. I did not vote for him in 2008 when he ran for president against Barack H. Obama. I haven’t always liked the tone he has taken in criticizing his former presidential campaign foe.

However, I’ve never lost respect for the life he has lived and the service he has given to this country. Nor have I ever stopped respecting the extreme hardship he has endured while serving the country he loves so much.

He has stood up to the head of his political party, the president of the United States. Sen. McCain is setting an example of leadership.

Count me now as one of this man’s biggest fans.

Is the party over for ACA repeal? Let’s hope so

On the day earlier this summer when he voted “no” on a plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., made an impassioned plea for the body where he has served for three decades to return to “regular order.”

Meaning that both parties, Democrats and Republicans, need to work for common ground, to seek compromise, to actually get things done for the good of the citizens they all serve.

The Vietnam War hero’s plea fell on deaf ears. Senate Republicans decided — against logic and good judgment — to proceed yet again with a GOP-only repeal of the ACA.

Sen. McCain has stuck the shiv into the GOP’s efforts by announcing he plans to vote “no” once again on this ACA repeal effort. It likely blows the effort to smithereens. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., will vote against it because it doesn’t go far enough in getting rid of the vestiges of the ACA; Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is a likely “no” vote, as is Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

Senate Republicans — who have hardly any room for defections given their slim Senate majority — face a Sept. 30 deadline to get this deal done with a 50-vote plus one (Vice President Mike Pence) majority; after that, Senate rules return to a 60-vote supermajority requirement.

So, what about that “regular order” thing that McCain sought earlier this year?

The ACA isn’t perfect. It likely isn’t even a good piece of legislation. Barack Obama’s signature bill needs work. It needs to be amended, nipped and tucked. To do that, though, requires that “regular order” that McCain wants to see restored. That would mean bipartisan cooperation, the search for commonality.

That’s how legislation gets done.

President Lyndon Johnson knew how to legislate. He employed his overpowering persuasive skills to bring Republicans along. President Richard Nixon was no slouch, either, at working with Democrats. Nor were Presidents Ford, Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton or Bush 43.

President Obama needed to work better at developing that skill. Then again, the Republican intransigence was too big a hurdle for him to overcome.

Sen. McCain has called repeatedly for a return to the old way of legislating. His decision today only drives home that call even more deeply.

The question now becomes: Is anyone in a leadership position going to heed those calls ever again on Capitol Hill?

Now the ‘Vietnam’ series is getting serious

PBS is taking a couple of days off leading us down the trail of tragedy that was the Vietnam War.

Episode Four aired tonight and I was gripped by a brief segment contained within it. I’ll need a couple of days to catch my breath before the Ken Burns-Lynn Novick documentary special returns Sunday night.

“The Vietnam War” is walking us through the war year by year. Tonight it took us to the end of 1967. In January of the following year, the Tet Offensive erupted — and it changed everything.

Tonight, though, we saw a brief segment of a young Navy aviator being questioned by his captors in Hanoi. The aviator was lying on a bed, telling the world that he loved his wife. He was in great pain, having been injured when he parachuted from his stricken jet fighter into a Hanoi lake.

John McCain III would spend more than five years as a prisoner of war. He would be tortured, beaten to within an inch of his life. He would be put in solitary confinement. He would be offered an early release, but would refuse it because he didn’t want to give the enemy a propaganda tool, given that his father, Adm. John McCain Jr., was a senior Navy officer. Nor did he want to dishonor himself in the presence of his POW brethren. He would be tortured anew for his refusal to be released early.

And, yes … I thought of how the current president of the United States disparaged McCain’s heroic Vietnam War service while he was running for the presidency. Donald John Trump Sr. didn’t serve in the military during that terrible conflict, yet he blurted out that McCain was a “hero only because he was captured; I like people who aren’t captured, OK?”

I am reminded of a brief segment at the 2008 Al Smith Memorial Dinner featured Sens. McCain and Barack Obama, who were in the middle of a tough campaign for the presidency. The event is done in good fun and it raises money for the Roman Catholic Diocese in New York in memory of the late New York Gov. Al Smith.

Near the end of his hilarious comic riff, Sen. Obama took a moment to tell the audience that “few Americans have served their country with the distinction and honor” that John McCain has demonstrated.

The PBS documentary and the segment with Sen. McCain lying on that Hanoi bed was tough to watch. It simply reminded me, though, of what heroism looks like.